Many people are quite familiar with the notion of a third Jewish Temple. But just in case, let me give a brief summary. In the early days of the faith, there were many years that the wandering Hebrews never had a temple. Rather, they worshipped YHWH (or Jehovah) in a tent—the Tent of Meeting. But eventually, King David, having established himself comfortably in a palace, took it in mind to build a house also for God. The Bible states that God instructed him NOT to do that, since he was a warrior king, and had a violent past. Rather, the divine blessing was on David’s son, Solomon, to carry out the building task.
Solomon built the first temple around 966 BC, in Jerusalem, and therefore many people refer to it by his name: Solomon’s Temple. Animal sacrifice and the many musicians were the two prominent features of temple worship. It stood until 586 BC, when it was destroyed by the Babylonians. A second temple was built around 516 BC, on the same site, which was the temple that Jesus visited. Since King Herod expanded this temple so much during the first century, it came to be referred to as Herod’s Temple. It was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Since that time, the Jewish temple has never been rebuilt. All that is believed to remain is the Western Wall, sometimes called the Wailing Wall; which is a popular Jewish prayer destination.
Many Jews believe that when Messiah appears, he will build the third temple. Others claim it needs to be built first, to welcome Messiah to the planet. Some Jews believe that if a third temple is built, it will certainly mean a re-instituting of animal sacrifice; but others say no.
Besides financing such a project, one major problem that modern-day Israel has faced has to do with the location. Everyone assumes that the temples were originally on the Temple Mount. However, there are today five mosques on the Temple Mount, which could significantly inhibit construction. The most prominent two are the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The reason that there are five mosques is because in 1967, Israel gave control of the Temple Mount to Arabs as a sign of peace and goodwill, and in hopes that it would end the fighting. Presumably, it would be hard to ask for that land back, since it would mean the removal of five mosques.
On the surface, it would seem that the Jews will never get their third temple. However, there is good news for them and below I will explain.
The Wailing Wall we see today is actually the wall of Fort Antonia. This was a Roman garrison that housed as many as 10,000 soldiers, and was adjacent to, and higher than the Hebrew Temple.
The first two temples were rather just South of Fort Antonia in the City of David, next to Gihon Spring. Think about this. With thousands of animals being killed and burned (sacrificed) daily, they would need a lot of water to keep the temple clean. There is no water source on the Temple Mount! So, any temple builders would have seen the spring of Gihon as the obvious solution.
Therefore, the good news for Israel is that the City of David is under their control. They could build a third temple there tomorrow.
There are two possible downsides: 1) The long-held tradition that associates the temples with the Mount. That will have to be overcome. 2) The City of David is lower in elevation than the Temple Mount which could leave some feeling as if it is inferior, of sorts. But the original temples were never at the highest place in town. When Fort Antonia was operational, it stood higher than the temple.
For a much more detailed explanation, please see this site. (I am not endorsing the entire site, but just this article.)
The diagram above shows that the City of David is about 600 feet South of the Temple Mount. Traditionally believed to be the site of Solomon’s and Herod’s Jewish Temples, the Temple Mount in fact was the Roman Fort Antonia. The rectangular walled structure we still see standing was that Fort and would have housed as many as 10,000 Roman soldiers. The City of David is where the Jewish temples were originally built in 966 BC and 516 BC. (courtesy Google Earth)
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